Louella Morgan-Richer on Unlocking Trauma, Strengthening Resilience and Redefining Self Through Embodied Practices

Louella Morgan-Richer recently graduated as a Health Arts and Sciences student in the Transformative Language Arts concentration. In reflecting on her journey, she discusses how the Goddard Graduate Institute experience changed her art and life. Her art work, evident in these photos, has been shown around her community, and all of this art work was integral to her thesis also. Here is a brief interview with her.

What brought you to Goddard in the first place?

I came to Goddard in the Health Arts and Sciences program after graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. My intention was to continue working with those diagnosed with cancer and their families and to expand my knowledge beyond nutrition to incorporate a whole body wellness.

How did your study shift over time to what it became?

My studies shifted almost immediately. After reading many memoirs my first semester, I began to write pieces of my own story. Quickly I began to realize that the more memoir pieces I wrote, the better I began to feel. After six years of grieving the loss of my parents, I began to move through it and analyze it and began to find a place of healing. By my second semester I added the Transformative Language Arts concentration to my degree and began to research how expressive writing can raise the resilience in caregivers. Through my next two semesters I began to study scars and trauma and their impacts on our bodies and I added other embodied practices which led to my first art show and reception, a published piece of art in an online publication, and I became a Certified Yoga Teacher.

Tell us about the essence of your study.

This work is both a memoir and a record of studying and then utilizing various embodied practices to unleash stories – and grief from my body. It wasn’t until recently I realized the lives we live, the experiences we have, the scars that are left all continue to make an impact on both our mind and body long after the experience occurs. This work reads as the journey unfolded with short snippets of inspiration, inquiry and investigation that generated many bodies of work. Through diving into painful experiences utilizing different embodied practices I argue that we can relinquish such stories that cause dis-ease within our bodies.

What difference, so far, as doing, being, and knowing this work made in your life?

This work has changed my life. It has given me the space to reflect and heal from my own life challenges and I have gained resources/embodied practices that help me explore the texture of my own suffering. Through my practices I have learned how to emerge through my own experience, not in spite of it. I am currently showing my artwork in both a local business and at the Burlington Art Hop and I am facilitating my second eight week workshop series at Hospice Volunteer Services. I also recently started the conversation with a few acquaintances to do a co-facilitated retreat that will focus on writing our stories and trauma focused yoga.

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Posted in Arts-Based Inquiry, Creative Non-Fiction, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Embodiment Studies, Health Arts and Sciences, Transformative Language Arts | Tagged | Leave a comment

Graduating Student Presentations at the Fall 2017 Residency

A Recipe for Motivation, with Graduating Student Katherine Valenzuela. There is a gap between the understanding of nutrition and the utilization of this knowledge for athletic motivation. This presentation looks into this gap, or many gaps, making connections that can serve as a tool for athletic practice. This work begins with an introduction to the central tenants of motivation, including flow and behavioral resolve, and looks into the role of neurobiology in digesting and circulating emotion throughout the body. This presentation addresses the chains of influences that impede and or optimize the biological conditions necessary for a motivated mental state. These chains of influences include communication pathways between the brain and the gut, as well as nutrition, hormones, social environment, and gender. This presentation concludes with consideration on how to augment our biology to help circumvent motivational malaise.

Finding and Sharing Voice in the Holistic Choir, with Graduating Student Susan Wilkes. “Singing within a group creates positive holistic health outcomes for adolescents. This presentation explores and suggests methodologies that develop adolescent group singing experiences for the purpose of improving wellbeing in physical, mental/emotional and social areas of adolescent health. This presentation will give participants the opportunity to actively improve their overall health and wellbeing through the shared experience of singing together. We will sing, move, divide into small groups, reflect and sing as a large group. Using this experience as a foundation, we will develop awareness of how overall health is impacted by this activity and can be incorporated into daily life for continued benefit. The conclusion of the presentation will include handouts of practiced activities as well as resources for use in classroom and community settings.”

Fragile Little Bluebird, with Graduating Student Desiree Wyble. A reading from this young adult novel, a speculative, post-dystopian story exploring the love relationship of two twelve-year-old girls, Nectar, the extrovert, and Blu-Mari’aya, the introvert, live in year 150,052 on Antarctica. They both struggle to overcome the limits of their own narrow self- perspective in order to be together, one being introverted and careful; the other being outgoing and concerned with social status. Told in first-person, present-tense, the novel focuses on the temperament and emotional lives of these two girls, each telling their story.

From left: Sarah Van Hoy, Louella Morgan-Richer, Kate Aubin, Kristen Farrell, Jan Booth, and Kelly McDowell

The Light of Home Within, with Graduating Student Kristen Farrell. In her thesis, “Return to the Garden House: Embracing the Longing for Ancestors and Place,” Kristen reflects deeply on her lifelong search for belonging – both belonging to a “people” and belonging to a place on the Earth. Whether one’s ancestors have deep roots in one place, or many; and whether someone has always called one place home, or belonged to many places, the questions “Where do I belong?” and “Who do I belong to?” can be complex, contradictory, and exhilarating . In this presentation, Kristen will discuss significant ideas that have emerged on her own journey, share some of her art and experiential genealogy practices, and involve the audience in several short reflective activities. (Group sharing will be optional). Attendees will leave with suggestions for starting or continuing their own exploration of roots and place.

Mending Fashion: Sustainable Design for the Fashion Production Industry, with Graduating Student Kelly McDowell. During this presentation, you will learn about fibers, textiles and fashion production and manufacturing process that are currently in place that have become destructive to the environment and people. This presentation will also show how the consumer can shift the harmful process with their purchasing power and learn how to dress sustainability.

Re-imagining the End of Life: Fresh Thinking and Old Wisdom, with Graduating Student Jan Booth. “Over 30 years of working as a nurse in end-of-life care, I’ve seen that navigating aging, serious illness, and dying within our complex health care system is often confusing, isolating, crisis-driven, and dis-heartening. I’m interested in being part of a different cultural conversation that draws instead from the newer, disruptive ideas about death and dying — as well as from the best of old, human wisdom. How might talking more openly about dying help us live more intentionally and with greater well being? What might be possible:

  • If we re-imagined the end of life as a vital, purposeful stage of human development?
  • If practices of healing – forgiveness, gratitude, and letting go – were essential parts ofour care plans?
  • If wisdom informed our challenging decision points, instead of fear?
  • If preparation for death allowed us to live more fully the time that we have?

If the hard work of caregiving was sustainable and meaningful for both family and professional caregivers? This workshop will review the significant cultural shift that is happening with the emergence of new models for aging and dying, discuss how nurses might transform end-of-life care through “”coaching conversations”” about what matters most to people — and provide some time for participants to reflect on their own ideas about meaningful living and dying.

Re-Storyation- Reimagining the Narratives that Shape Our Worlds, with Graduating Student Rachel Economy. To change and re-design systems, we need the capacity to re-design the invisible stories beneath them. To respond to change, we need to be able to vision and revision, build and rebuild. Come explore how story can help us build alternatives, care for ourselves and each other, keep our imagination muscles alive and centered in our individual and collective action, and re-story our worlds.

Releasing Stories from the Body: A Self Exploration to Unlock Trauma, Strengthen Resilience and Redefine Self Through Embodied Practices, with Graduating Student Louella Morgan-Richer. “How do we distinguish between trauma and grief? What are the layers of both physical and emotional trauma and where does it live in the body? As I searched through studies on trauma, on healing from trauma, on building resilience in the face of unforeseen, unwanted, frightening, painful life events, and began practices that I hoped would help me heal, I slowly began to recognize that “my” problem was not one problem, nor was it mine alone. In this presentation, we will look at trauma in the body and the harm it can do when not addressed. Using a combination of personal story and academic research I’ll guide you through my own experience as I utilized different embodied practices feeling my way into my doubts, fears, anxieties, blocks, and dis-ease my body held.

Time for Change: Using the V.A.L.U.E. Framework for Assessment for Sustainability-Focused Organizations, with Graduating Student Crystal Hamlin. “This presentation will review the assessment I did of one alternative organization, The New School, as a proponent of sustainability and social equity, and how the organizational structure of this democratic school unintentionally perpetuates some of the inequities that the school intends to avoid. I will introduce the tool I created, A V.A.L.U.E Framework, that provides a structure with which to assess other alternative organizations for their own value and mission alignment as proponents of social change.

Work in NOT a Job: Pathways to work readiness (a classroom model), with Graduating Student Amber Ortiz. “Through an interactive presentation. I will introduce my work as a career readiness facilitator and worker in the field of growth & recovery. I will provide a review of trauma informed practices and a tool for organizational assessment and explore the workbook and facilitator’s guide that I created as part of my final project.

The Z ProtocolTM Materia Medica, with Graduating Student Zelda L Johnson. The Z ProtocolTM is a pilot study developed from the research of close to 50 complementary and alternative medicine modalities for the management or self-care of hypertension. An underlying etiology of hypertension is stress. We will look at how these modalities, or materia medica, lower blood pressure, reduce stress as well as increase performance. The audience will experience several CAM modalities that have proved therapeutic value using mental, emotional, physical, environmental and spiritual strategies.

Posted in Activism, Coaching, Community Building, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Death and Dying Studies/Pastoral Care, Digital Storytelling, Embodiment Studies & Body Image, Environmental, Sustainability & Place Studies, Goddard Graduate Institute, Health Arts and Sciences, Integrative Nutrition, Storytelling, Sustainability, Sustainable Businesses and Communities, Sustainable Fashion, Transformative Language Arts, Transforming Trauma | Leave a comment

The Medicine of Music, Plants, Nursing, Writing, and Translation: Goddard Students’ Workshops at the Fall 2017 Residency

Call and Response – Finding the Music Inside Us, with IMA returning student, Tim Simmons. From our very beginnings, music has been part of what define us as humans. We sing and dance to express our joy and our sadness. Music moves us, both physically and emotionally. Music empowers us to be heard in our most vibrant and essential selves, and our most vulnerable. Bursting forth from silence, music expresses what we can’t say in words.

“Comfort Quest”- Exploring Pain through a Positive Lens, with HAS returning student Lisa Evers. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” –Socrates. Attempting to numb our pain is not yielding the desired results in society today- pain continues, addiction rages, and people are dying! I feel that our current Pain Scale may be fueling the opioid crisis because we treat pain as the enemy and try to silence it. Returning from the EDGE of this philosophy, I am offering a new Vision- “Comfort Quest” where energy will be focused on understanding pain’s messages and empowering the body to heal. Join me and experience this process “hands on”. We will begin with a brief survey (voluntary participation), move to an educational component, and finally work through our own discomfort in a more creative & positive fashion- exploring body, mind and spirit causes and remedies. Pain is intense and complex; yet there is so much more to flourishing as human beings beyond simply not feeling pain. Let’s change our perspective, empower our body/minds and embrace comfort as we release our hidden blocks to vitality.

Embodied Plant Medicine, with returning HAS student, Stefania Patinella. Healers and medicine people across history and culture have used direct, embodied communication with plants to tap into the powerful medicine they hold for the human body, mind and spirit. In this workshop, we will practice such direct knowing by tasting an extraction of a medicinal herb and using our senses, intuition, heart and imagination to listen to and learn something about it. The plant will be unknown to you so you can approach it without preconceived ideas. We will then share our individual experiences as a group, and begin to weave a collective story about this plant’s medicine. Finally, I will reveal the name of the herb and talk about its materia medica–its history of use, medicinal qualities, origin, botany and folklore–so we can tie our personal experiences into the plant’s wider tradition.

Shomriel Sherman with fellow study Tracy Murphy

Letters to the Young Ones, with IMA-TLA returning student Shomriel Sherman. This workshop will be an invitation for us to gather together in fierce love and honor for the children within and among us. We will use this time to write about issues that are weighing heavily on our hearts, framing our writing as if to a child, whether this be an actual child or our younger self. This writing can take different forms, including but not limited to letters, poems, fairy tales or fables, and two-way conversations. The important thing is that we will not be attempting to intellectually address large and complex problems but instead to access a deeper wisdom, feeling into the fear, grief, and joy that surround and enliven our experiences and relationships.

Navigating Edges and Voids: Translation as Transformation, with IMA returning student Ray Saxon. Translation isn’t necessarily the literal translation of one language into another. Translation can be a more abstract process of communication, transformation, and acknowledgement that something is lost as well as gained. This workshop will explore this wider concept of translation as the communication of perception, and the navigation of edges and voids in understanding. Translation represents a dialogue between theory and practice, so we’ll begin by discussing how topics in translation theory apply to our wider definition of translation, and then explore these theories in practice by working through a series of interactive prompts. This will be an opportunity to examine what we think we know, why we think we know it, and how translation can transform not just the ideas we’re trying to communicate, but our own understanding of them.

Posted in Community Building, Creative Writing, Creativity & Imagination, Music, Nursing, Plant Medicine, Translation Studies | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Comfort Quest by HAS Student Lisa Evers

A current Health Arts and Sciences Student, Lisa Evers, RN, just had an article on her MA study and some of her life’s biggest legacy work published in the American Holistic Nurses Association journal. Evers’ article, “Comfort Quest: Nursing Pain Through a Positive Lens,” calls for replacing the current pain scale with a “Comfort Quest” scale to help patients explore pain and discomfort through a positive lens.

Evers has over 30 years of nursing experience, including in Emergency Nursing and Addiction Medicine, plus she served in the U.S. Coast Guard reserve for 32 years. Her MA study makes a strong case for a new vision of nursing.

Read the whole article here.

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Embodied Knowing: The Body is the Revolution on the Magical Mystery Tour

Lise Weil

Goddard faculty members Lise Weil, Sarah Van Hoy, and Lori Wynters, who helped design and launch the new concentration in Embodiment Studies, recently talk about embodied ways of knowing of WDGR’s Magical Mystery Tour.

Sarah Van Hoy and another embodied friend

Listen to the “Embodied Knowledge: The Body is the Revolution” insightful interview here to learn more about Embodiment Studies in the Goddard Graduate Institute’s programs and in the experiences of faculty and students.

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The Power of Words In Action with Transformative Language Arts

The Power of Words is in the air — it’s the focus of the 14th annual Power of Words conference to be held Aug. 18-20 at Ferry Beach in Saco, Maine, as well as the focus of a podcast with GGI faculty member and TLA founder Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.

The Power of Words conference, which started as a project of Goddard College before moving on to be part of the non-profit Transformative Language Arts Network, features writers, storytellers, musicians, spoken word artists, activists, community leaders, educators, and health professionals investigating and celebrating how writing, storytelling and other word arts can catalyze social change, build community, and lead to greater healing and meaning. This year’s conference, which Goddard College is an underwriting for, features Joseph Bruchac, who over for 30 years has been creating poetry, short stories, novels, anthologies, and music that reflect his Abenaki Indian heritage and Native American traditions. Other keynoters include singer-songwriter Kelley Hunt, True Story Theater, writer and educator Mahogany L. Browne, and educator Susan Bennett Armistead. A bunch of Goddard alumni and students will be presenting at and attending the conference, including Emilee Baum, chair of the TLA Network; Seema Reza, conference chair; Joanna Tebbs Young, Kristen Ferrell, Shomriel Sherman, Jennye Patterson, and others. Goddard students, faculty, and staff receive a 10% discount on the conference — contact Teri Grunthaner at the TLA Network at director@tlanetwork.org for details.

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, who helped found the TLA Network and started the Power of Words conference in 2003, will be presenting a workshop at the conference, “Writing the Tree of Life: Midrash to Re-Vision Our Lives,” recently did a 30-minute interview with Teri Grunthaner, executive director of the TLA Network, on what TLA is, how it developed and grew, and what some of the promise and challenges are for the future. Listen to the interview here or click below.

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The Social Life of Natural Foods with Diasie Sammy-Christopher

Diasie Sammy-Christopher, a Health Arts and Sciences student, explains the ways we can come to understand food and “what extend we are manipulated by external sources.” Here’s her comments on engaging in the social life of natural foods. These videos are part of a series done by videographer Alexander Love. Learn more about his work here.

Diasie Sammy-Christopher – The Social Life of Natural Foods from Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg on Vimeo.

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